Insights for Destination & Leisure Marketers

Retro Ad of the Week: Poland Spring House, 1932

resort ads

August vacation in New England means it’s time to head to Maine. This was as true in the early part of the 20th century as it is now. The above retro resort ad from Poland Spring hits two birds with one stone: it’s hotel marketing and a consumer product advertisement in one fell swoop. And it hits two markets: those that can, and those that wish they could – so they’ll take the next best thing. In other words, if you can’t afford the resort, at least you can still drink the water.

Bird 1. Hotel Marketing

The Poland Spring House had everything a lavish hotel of the time should: tennis, bathing, fishing, horseback riding, and an enormous library. But the biggest sell? The healing, medicated baths, medical supervision, and mineral drinking water. The Poland Spring house could be considered a precursor to Canyon Ranch and other destination-based health spas. People of means traveled for miles to “take the waters,” looking for cures for ailments of all kinds.

Bird 2. Consumer Goods Advertising

For those that can’t afford such luxury in the name of health, then next best thing would be to drink Poland Spring at home. After all, it was the “Foremost Natural Mineral Water Famed as the Great Kidney Eliminant.”  By tying the take-home brand to a more upper-crust experience, the consumer feels connected to a larger, and perhaps superior health experience.

One more fun detail: this ad offers a free booklet entitled “Mineral Waters Therapeutically Considered” – proving content marketing is not a new concept.

FUN FACT: The Poland Spring House began as a simple inn in 1797, brought to life by Jabez Ricker. His grandson, after claiming the waters on the property cured him of chronic dyspepsia, enlarged the inn in 1861. Guests began praising the water as well, prompting them to begin bottling it – leading to a boom in business. The extravagant resort featured in this ad was opened in 1876, but unfortunately this grand building burned to the ground in 1975. Some of the other buildings still exist, and the property continues to run as a resort albeit under different management.